where we've been and where we're going

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Conspiracy and Country

D and I went to Texas in order to attend a wedding and decided, while there, to visit most of the people we knew living in Texas. It was a whirlwind weekend of little sightseeing and much fun.

We had briefly tossed around the idea of driving the 13 hours from ATL to DFW, but instead found a decent rate for both flights and rental cars and flew instead. Boy was that a good decision for the preservation of our marriage. After landing, we promptly found the first ridiculous hip country radio station and headed to Fort Worth, where the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were to be held that evening. (The bride was my college roommate, and I was to sing in the wedding...it was a great honor to be asked.)

With some time to kill, we found the Kimbell Art Museum. It's the general art museum in FW. For art reasons, we would have probably preferred the Modern Art Museum (which we never managed to make it to) but the Kimbell was designed by architect Louis I. Kahn. You might noticed the link I provided was not to the art museum general page, but instead to the page in which you can virtual tour the museum, to see this gorgeous building. It's really remarkable. The collection is small, but really quite good, particularly for being such a small collection. Some of you may know I'm not a huge fan of the Atlanta High Museum's permanent collection, despite how incredible the traveling exhibitions tend to be. But the Kimbell's collection was lovely, with at least one Caravaggio, Monet, Manet, Picasso, Mondrian, Pisarro, Munch, and beautiful old Spanish and Dutch paintings, which are some of my favorite genres. The ancient art collection was also nice. All in all, though you can't say there was much, each piece is worth spending time on, which is not something you can say for many other art museums. (Across the street is the modern art museum. We didn't have time to go in, but we did take photos in the outside sculpture.)

We found a Starbucks, because we were starving and wanted to find a place to sit and work for a while. D napped.

Finally, we were able to see K and J at the rehearsal! The wedding was in a lovely (tiny) chapel in Fort Worth, designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, called the Marty Leonard Chapel. It had a beautiful skylight the length of the roof, and it was just gorgeous. And so, of course, was my friend. We then had dinner at an Italian restaurant I can't remember the name of, and drove, late, to Dallas, where we were staying with some friends I met in grad school. J was in choir with me back in the day. It was great to stay up and catch up with them!

In the morning, they took us to brunch at a fantastic little Latin bakery, La Duni. I had a brunch chile relleno and marvelous fried potatoes, coupled with a Latin (foamy) hot chocolate made from melted Godiva chocolate. Oh it was heavenly. J had to work for the afternoon, but S took us to the site of the JFK assassination and the Sixth Floor Museum. This is the museum dedicated to the life and death of JFK. It was a much more serious museum than we expected. We were ready for something full of conspiracies and tawdry ideas about JFK, but it was a very respectful museum about the man, his policies, his family, and then that day. The photos and videos were very moving. I found myself very upset and near tears at several points on the tour. If you go, I highly recommend the (free) audioguide. It walks you through the exhibit very carefully, has interesting tidbits on top of reading the posts, and if you don't you would have to do quite a bit of reading, blocking up the crowds behind you. You can also see the corner where LHO was supposedly sitting when he fired shots (you know, if he did it). It really was quite something to be there. I was not alive when he died, but I feel his death quite personally, nonetheless. Isn't it wild how that happens?

We made sure to drive by the Fountain Place and building designed by IM Pei, which is where S asked J to marry him. Then we three drove to FW to the botanical gardens. It was a really beautiful day in Texas, with 80 degree weather and bright sunshine, so it was a perfect day to be outside and look at flowers. Apparently, the rest of FW had the same idea, so it was very busy at the gardens. Wedding parties were out taking photos, which I always fun. Who doesn't like to see a lady in a pretty wedding dress? After the rose gardens, we went into the Japanese gardens, which were really quite lovely. Coi populate the pond, and there was lots of shade and benches on which to rest. It was such a nice day to be outside and enjoy beautiful things with friends. J was only able to meet us at the end of the day, right before we had to leave for the wedding, but it was worth it for us to see her, at least for us!

The wedding was perfectly beautiful, and so very like our friends. It was gorgeous.
After the wedding and the lovely reception, we drove late into the night to Austin, to S & P's apt. Poor thing, we woke her like three times to find her apt. Sigh. And then we all crashed. The next day was all with friends. We spent most of the time with S & P and their daughter Charlotte, who's just precious, but unfortunately was sick and therefore very sad all day, and their great dog Strazh. We just hung out and talked all day, plus a lovely walk around the Lake in downtown (or close to downtown) Austin. Recently, S saw Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong running there! We also had dinner with our friends, K-A, T, and B, which was also great. We didn't see much of Austin that weekend, but we saw lots of our great friends. In the morning, before heading back to Dallas for our flight, we had brunch with my cousin, L, who is a freshman as UT, and S&P, at the Magnolia Cafe. A southwestern take on breakfast. Man, was it delicious. I sure love good food. And it was cheap! And, I think, organic. What more could a person want? And it felt like it lives up to Austin's ideal: Keep Austin Weird.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fun travel websites

As I stumble upon cool or different travel blogs or websites (usually because I find them in the many email newletters I've blindly chosen to receive), I may mention them in a post or two. I'll also keep a running list in the side bar, for anyone who'd like to find them.

For starters, here's a fun site designed to suggest trips especially for girlfriends. I know I have a few girlfriends scattered around the country with whom I would love to someday do annual weekends in new and fun places, and here's where I'll start, when that financial day arrives.


Right now there's a feature on a getaway in each of the 50 US states, and a story about some girlfriends who spent a vacation in Como stalking George Clooney. Someday, girls, you and me. And George.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Things to Do in Morocco

I just read an AP article on the many things to do while in Morocco, and I'm really starting to get excited about going! In fact, I'm edging closer and closer to wanting to go straight there from Paris to spend a whole week, rather than splitting the week between Madrid and Morocco.


You know, I have had quite a bit of trouble learning about things to do in Morocco. Travel guides all seem to say the same thing, and not many travelers make helpful comments on the many travel websites for sharing ideas. I find lots of hotel suggestions, and not many "DO" suggestions. I wonder why that is.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Conference and Sports Weekend in Chicago

I visited Chicago this past weekend for a professional conference, but I still tried to enjoy the city as much as I could with little spare time and even less spare money. As soon as we arrived, five friends and I made our way out the red line to Wrigley for a Cubs/Astros day game! It started cool, so I wore like four layers of clothing, but sitting in the sun and drinking a hot chocolate made it much better after a while. Being a Cards fan, I did not wear Cubs gear, though I did wear blue so as not to be beaten in the bleachers. We sat in the lower bleachers in center field. Being someone who has been to more than a few baseball games in her life, I must say that there's nothing quite like being in the bleachers in Wrigley Field. I personally feel St. Louis fans are the best fans in baseball, but Cubs fans are of a whole different breed. Great knowledge of the players and the game, and more heckling than makes me feel comfortable. Whenever the Cubs get a run, all of the fans in the bleachers pass around high-fives like they're all neighbors. It's something. Cubs lost (which I'll admit was fine with me, though a win would have been fun, too).

We then set off to celebrate the post-game in the bars of Wrigleyville. After trying to get into the Cubby Bear and finding it packed to the brim with young folks, we made our way to Goose Island, a micro-brewery nearby. As you might guess, they brew their own beer. Of course, I think beer is disgusting, so I had a rootbeer float with Goose Island root beer--made with real sugar! It was delicious. Successful rootbeer...check.

We then went back to the hotel to pick up Andrew and Terry and find deep-dish pizza. To refer again to my St. Louis roots, I like my pizza made with provel cheese and cracker-thin crust. But one has to eat deep-dish in Chicago! So we went to Giordano's, where not only is it deep dish, but it's stuffed with all the toppings in the middle of the pizza. Such a concept is madness. But oh so delicious.

The next morning, S and I presented our paper and then went to another panel. Then I went shopping. Our hotel was in the loop district, and that's where I shopped. I bought a new suit! I'm sure to get a job in this getup. That afternoon we walked across the river to Mother Hubbard's, a sports pub with tons of screens and a great local feel to watch the NCAA semifinal games. The drinks were expensive, but the food was okay. In particular, the onion rings were rockin'. I had picked UCLA to win the whole shebang, so I found the first game disappointing, but at least Kansas won. Root root for the midwest! It was a really great place to watch the games...dark, yummy, and loud with sports cheers.

I attended one more panel the next morning, and then we had to check out of the hotel and wander until we had to leave for the airport. So we had coffee and tea at Ada's--we didn't eat, but we'd had brunch there before and really enjoyed it. Not much to look at, but breakfast is yummy. We then dropped Andrew off to head to the airport, shopped a little, and moved on to lunch. We tried this new chain called Wow Bao in the Renaissance Hotel. In Asia, bao are stuffed yeast buns that are common fast food items....just buns stuffed with meat and vegetables. Wow Bao is the first American chain to offer these. They're delicious! I also had yummy hibiscus tea, and they offer handmade ginger ale (which I didn't try but sounds awesome). It feels very trendy and California-yuppy, but that doesn't change the deliciousness or the novelty. I recommend it.

Then boring homework in the hotel, a ride to MDW, and a ridiculously difficult crossword puzzle later (still unfinished!), we returned to Atlanta. Successful weekend, though severely lacking in tourism. Next time.